Testimony targets Gov. Rick Snyder's statements to Congress under oath

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FLINT (WJRT) (10/6/2017) - Testimony Gov. Rick Snyder gave to Congress in 2016 came under scrutiny Friday during Day 4 of a hearing to determine whether his top health official should stand trial for involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office.

Harvey Hollins testifies in a preliminary hearing for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon.

A judge heard testimony for a fourth day in a preliminary hearing for Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. He is charged with failing to alert the public about 2014 and 2015 Legionnaires' disease outbreaks in Flint in a timely manner.

Lyon is accused of contributing to the death of a Flint man who died from Legionnaires' during the water emergency.

Harvey Hollins, who is Snyder's Director of Urban Affairs and Initiatives, testified in Lyon's preliminary hearing on Friday. His testimony about when Snyder first became aware of the Legionnaires' danger differs from when the governor told Congress he first learned of it.

Hollins worked primarily on Flint's economic development for Snyder until the Concerned Pastors reached out to him in 2014. They were worried about the switch of Flint's drinking water source to the Flint River. Hollins was working to determine whether the switch away from Detroit's water system actually saved Flint money.

But, in March 2015, 11 months after the water switch, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality sent Hollins an email about legionella bacteria, which the agency told him it had been dealing with since October 2014. At that time, the MDEQ's Public Information Officer said the source of the bacteria was not clear.

Hollins testified that he didn't tell Snyder about the Legionnaires' concerns in March because higher up officials in the Governor's administration also received the email and talking with Snyder would have been their purview.

Instead, Hollins said he discussed the legionella concerns with Snyder after a meeting in December 2015. Hollins testified that Snyder indicated to him he was not aware of the legionella concerns at that time.

Special Prosecutor Todd Flood then quickly showed the courtroom footage of Snyder's testimony to Congress in March 2016. Snyder told federal lawmakers under oath that he hadn't learned about Flint's Legionnaires' concerns until 2016. "In terms of legionnaires', I didn't learn of that until 2016, and as soon as I became aware of it, we held a press conference the next day," Governor Snyder told Congress.

Despite the discrepancy in testimony on Friday, it was unclear whether Snyder could face repercussions.

Flood did not comment if this meant Governor Snyder is in legal trouble; but, he says he doesn't foresee calling the Governor, his focus is the cases he's already working on.

The Governor's Office sent a statement, "Our policy is to not comment on the investigation or judicial proceedings."

Nick Lyon's case has been adjourned until November 1st.

But, Flood does expect to move forward with the preliminary exam for Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Eden Wells, on Monday.



 
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